Saturday, 20 February 2010


Well yes, it will eventually, of course, and we are only in February. But we have had an incredible amount of snow this year, since December virtually non stop. Sometimes a few centimetres, sometimes a few flakes, but not a week without. Just before Christmas, the weather had been so mild, I had geraniums still in flower on my front terrace, and I have a good picture of red geraniums covered in snow! But the frosts in January soon put paid to that.

Now we have hail at some point almost every day, even when the weather looks quite mild. Yesterday, for instance, the morning looked set to be really lovely, quite mild. I organised a walk on the beach with Ellie and my friend from pottery, Marcelle. On my way to Ste Marine, to the beach, it hailed heavily, quite large stones. And then once at the beach, it was lovely again, the sun quite warm. It was Ellie's first time at the beach (Ellie is my new dachshund puppy, for those who have not been following). She didn't seem to mind the sand at all, was not interested in the water, didn't notice it in fact, but loved picking up long bits of seaweed and running off with them (I forgot my camera!). And driftwood. And shells. So definitely a success, and 40 minutes' walk in the sea air exhausted her for the rest of the day, so I had peace and quiet!

I bought salt to spread on my back terrace, which the night previously had been lethal with frozen rain. I spread the salt at 19h30 and then it started to rain. It rained all evening, washed away the salt and this morning at 6h00 when Ellie felt the urge, the terrace and steps were completely glassy, really dangerous. So I didn't even try to go down to the garden, she had to pee on the terrace, that was dangerous enough. But I've just discovered that there is about a 5°C difference between the back and the front of my house, the front terrace is not frozen at all, nor is the water in my little watering can. So she'll just have to learn to go out there for the moment without putting our lives in danger! This is all fascinating stuff isn't it!

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


Poor old Oslo who had been slowing down a lot finally took a turn for the worse in November and I had to take the difficult decision to have her put to sleep. Thirteen and a half years of companionship. A very sad month for me as you can imagine, I lived in a bubble of pain and grief and the house was terribly quiet. Even my unsociable cat, UP (pronounce Youpie) was stricken and looked everywhere for Oslo before realizing that I was now her only friend in the world and becoming a bit nicer! I even felt bad about cleaning up, storing dog beds, hoovering up hair... there was less of that of course, I have to say the house was a lot cleaner.

I vowed I would not get another dog. I went off to London at Christmas to stay with Nicholas, and it was all much easier of course. I booked a holiday in India so that I wouldn't think of getting another. I'm off to Kerala for a month at the end of February, to look after my body in a tiny ayurvedic centre in an obsure corner of the region, up in the hills, far from civilisation. It'll be nice to get some sun after the winter we've had.
And then, flipping through the newspaper I came across an ad for dachshund puppies... My first dog was a long haired dachs when I was 13. I had another in le Mée when the children were small. And later a wire haired. This litter was smooth haired. Black and tan. A sensible choice, no hair, no grooming, no mud. Portable. So off I went, and since the breeder offered to take her back for the month I'm in India at no cost, I went and bought one! Ellie, three months.
Well she's very sweet, she's put a lot of life back into the house. The cat is delighted. But what a lot of work! One tends to forget every time just how much work it is. My garden is situated down a steep flight of stairs. I have to traipse out in the dark, with a torch, being careful not to slip on the frozen terrace, to take her to pee every night and impossibly early in the morning. But at the same time it's such fun and she's a quick learner. So there we are, I managed two and a half months without a dog. Not bad eh?


I went to Princeton last September just in time to settle in before Cécile went off to have her baby. I was able to look after Marius, then three, without having to get him up in the middle of the night and cart him off to friends, and I was enough of a novelty, having arrived only a couple of days before, for him to be delighted to be looked after by me. Poor Cécile did not have a very pleasant time, and it was lucky I was there for a month to run the house while she recovered from a very nasty experience. But all seems well now, and Leif Mohandes is growing like crazy and is already getting on for 5 months old. He seems a good natured little chap, hero worships his big brother, and causes little trouble so it appears. Marius, who had been very trying for some time, has finally turned the corner and become charming again. Have a look at their blog for photos, videos etc.


I joined Couchsurfers in June last year, initially as most people do, to see the world for free, but since then I have only hosted, never travelled. There is a lot to be said for the Couchsurfer organisation, in that it enables you to get in touch with, chat with, stay with and host people you could never ever have met otherwise. There are certain dangers of course, one has to be very careful and read profiles carefully before accepting a person or people one has never met before into one's home. One has to set one's own rules. There is also the danger on the various forums of rumour, backbiting, and frankly slanderous behaviour that one would rarely meet in real life. People feel free behind a computer screen to voice opinions and criticize where they would never do so to your face. But that being said, I hosted four times last year (my profile is CarolineV,, you can look me up under Brittany, and you'll see who I hosted and what we thought of each other). One of my guests taught me to fly a kite (the type kitesurfers use) on my big beach and was kind enough to send me a beginner's kite for my birthday! I also found a marvellous Norwegian housesitter for the month I spent in Princeton when Cécile was having my second grandson (Leif Mohandes, born 28th September), and one of the people I hosted last summer is coming this month to sit my house for most of the month of March when I'm away in India (more of that further on). All for free, they consider my house a good base for visiting the region, I know the place is occupied and my animal(s) looked after and plants watered. I'm less keen on surfing someone else's couch though. Don't like to impose, which is silly, since I agree to be imposed upon; don't want things to go wrong and end up paying for an expensive hotel; not sure I want to put up with being carted around as a tourist, I prefer doing it on my own. But maybe I'll get around to that this year.